March 5, 2014

Twitter will install cabins from the late 1800s in its new San Francisco headquarters.     Photo: Kris Tripplaar/Associated Press

Log Cabins to be built inside Twitter HQ

Repurposed wood make rustic cafes

Employees at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters will soon be dining in log cabins built during the late 1800s.

The tech company recently purchased a pair of Montana homesteader cabins off Craigslist. The structures will be dismantled and then installed at Twitter’s new digs in the Western Furniture Exchange and Merchandise Mart building on Market Street.

The cabins, which will be refurnished with new dining booths, will be placed within a larger open floor plan as a way to break up the space. 

It’s a move that differentiates Twitter from all the other tech companies on the block, Olle Lundberg, CEO and founder of the architectural firm helping design the new space, told the Marin Independent Journal. The cabins also highlight the unofficial competition going on in Silicon Valley to provide unusual, creativity-inspiring workplaces.

"We've used the notion of the forest as a nice tie-in with Twitter and its bird logo," Lundberg said. "To me, the log cabins fit into that since, obviously, they're made from logs that come from the forest. It's also about using natural materials. There's something nice about the character of the real wood. … It isn't something fake.”

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Amber, a 15-month-old golden retriever, helped rescue her injured owner in Alaska.     Photo: AP

Hero Dog Saves Snowmobiler

Protects injured owner for 24 hours

Put down that state-of-the-art GPS. A 15-month-old golden retriever may be all the survival gear you need to take with you into the backcountry.

On Sunday, Alaskan Otis Orth wrecked his snowmachine on a remote road and may have survived only because of his loyal dog, Amber.

According to the Alaska Dispatch, that Sunday morning, the 52-year-old Orth left his home in Alaska's Trapper Creek community, an area 116 miles north of Anchorage, to get supplies from town. But as Orth rode his snowmobile down an icy trail, he took a shortcut. His vehicle passed over a hollow snow drift, sending him and his dog, Amber, into the air.

After sliding about 30 feet, Orth couldn't move, was covered in cuts and blood, and had serious injuries to his arms, legs, and shoulders.

Her owner immobilized, Amber lay by his side through the night to keep him warm even as temperatures dipped into the low single digits. The next day, Orth found himself sinking into the snow, and feared for his eyes as a raven began to examine him—until Amber ran the bird off.

Later that morning, and more than 24 hours after the crash, Orth heard snowmobiles. He instructed Amber to go get the attention of the riders. The dog hadn't strayed more than 20 yards from Orth until then.

At first the men, brothers Tom and Maynard Taylor, saw Orth's snowmobile and thought he was in the bushes going to the bathroom, or something else unremarkable. When they heard Amber, they worried about stopping—one of their own snowmobiles was low on fuel. But as soon as the brothers slowed, Amber led them to Orth.

The brothers helped keep Orth warm until a LifeMed helicopter arrived, but when they tried to put a leash on Amber to move her away from the landing zone, the dog wouldn't leave Orth's side.

Orth is now stable, and recovering in an Anchorage hospital, but he may lose a few toes to frostbite. Rerports indicate he'll also need spinal surgery to fuse three of his vertebrae.

It's hard to overestimate the bond between canines and humans: In December, Orth rescued Amber from a kennel. On Sunday, Amber payed him back.

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This is why you're fat.     Photo: Gennadiy Poznyakov/Getty Images

U.S. Obesity Rates Up in 2013

Mississippi tops fattest scale

The results of a Gallup poll released yesterday reveal that the rate of obesity among American adults continues to rise—it's now at 27.1 percent nationwide—while the obesity landscape is shifting.

In 2013, Mississippi surpassed West Virginia as the most obese state; more than 35 out of every 100 Mississippians are overweight. On the other side of the scale, Montana dipped below Colorado as the slimmest state in the union, with about 19 out of every 100 Montanans are obese. (Coincidentally, Dunkin' Donuts opened in Boulder, Colorado, the same day Gallup released its poll.)

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index considers adults with a BMI between 18.5 to less than 25 normal weight, between 25 to less than 30 to be overweight, and 30 or above to be obese. Gallup found that the lost of productivity due to employees above normal weight or having a history of chronic conditions ranges from $160 million among agricultural workers to $24.2 billion among professionals.

"Research has shown that the average healthcare costs for obese individuals are over $1,300 more annually than someone who is not obese," Dr. James E. Pope, senior vice president and chief science officer at Healthways, said in a statement. Pope added that an unhealthy food environment and poor eating habits, among other factors, often correlate with rising obesity rates.

Some nutritionists say that's not the whole picture.

"There is an immense amount of evidence I’ve found that runs completely contradictory to what the governments and dietitians around the world are recommending," Kris Gunnars, a nutrition researcher, writes on his website. "The modern diet is the main reason why people all over the world are fatter and sicker than ever before."

Gunnars claims that increased sugar, refined flour, and margarine consumption and a decrease in butter and egg consumption directly correlate with obesity rates in the United States.

But, hey, Taco Bell now serves waffle tacos for breakfast—how can you resist?

How does your state rank?

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Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes are now protected by federal law.     Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Feds Protect National Lakeshore

First wilderness since 2009

Our current Congress isn't exactly known for legislative efficiency, especially when it comes to the environment. Since the 1964 passage of the Wilderness Act, every Congress has designated at least one area to become a national park or monument—that is, until President Obama took office.

But, as the Washington Post reports, that changed yesterday. The House voted unanimously(!) to protect 32,500 acres of Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, approving a bill the Senate gave the green light to last June. For the first time in five years, Congress passed a wilderness bill.

The dunes span 35 miles of Lake Michigan's coastline on Michigan's northern lower peninsula, near Traverse City. The area features 450-foot-high bluffs, historic sites, and opportunities for hunting and fishing.

According to the National Park Service, the Sleeping Bear Dunes' history spans from early Native American cultures to more recent commerce along the Great Lakes. In the 19th century, the nearby Manitou Passage served as an important route for commercial shipping, but unpredictable weather and sand shoals made the region dangerous for ships. During the winter of 1870–71, 214 people perished in shipwrecks near the dunes.

That's why the coastline has several lighthouses. Today, the South Manitou Island lighthouse is open for tours.

Until this recent congressional action, President Obama used authority granted to him by the 1906 Antiquities Act to protect important American regions. The administration would like to preserve two more areas using this method: New Mexico's 500,000-acre Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks area and California's 1,600-acre Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands.

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Chipotle uses 97,000 pounds of avocados every day.     Photo: martiapunts/Thinkstock

Chipotle Guac Squashed by Climate Change

Avocados might become too expensive

Chipotle Inc. has proposed the unthinkable. In the food chain’s recent annual report, Chipotle states that guacamole might have to be removed from the menu. Citing climate change as the driving factor behind price increases in products like avocados, beef, dairy, and chicken, Chipotle would suspend those items from the menu instead of changing its price structure.

“Weather-related issues, such as freezes or drought, may also lead to temporary spikes in the prices of some ingredients," reads Chipotle’s annual report. "For instance, two years of drought conditions in parts of the U.S. have resulted in significant increases in beef prices during late 2013 and early 2014.” The report then adds, "In the event of cost increases with respect to one or more of our raw ingredients, we may choose to temporarily suspend serving menu items, such as guacamole or one or more of our salsas."

Chipotle does acknowledge that depriving its loyal followers of the famous guacamole might hurt its brand. Guacamole is a staple at every location of the Mexican grill. The company uses an average of 97,000 pounds of avocado a day, totaling more than 35 million pounds a year.

Chipotle’s commitment to using local produce from within 350 miles of the restaurant where it will be served leaves the company more exposed to climate shifts. That said, California locations might be the first to see the guacamole bowl empty.

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Burl is the knobby part at the bottom of the tree used to make coffee tables and wall clocks.     Photo: Getty Images

Park Closes Road to Thwart Poachers

Old-growth thieves are stymied

Under the cover of night along the Northern California coast, poachers with chainsaws and ATVs have been chipping away at the old-growth forests of Redwood National and State Parks. Most of them are drug addicts looking for a buck, officials say. On Saturday, the National Park Service began closing the heavily trodden Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway in an attempt to hinder the thieves, reports the Seattle Times

What they are stealing is called burl, the knobby lower part of the tree that eventually sprouts when the gargantuan tree dies. Cutting off the burl doesn’t immediately kill the tree, but it prevents future forest growth. What’s worse: The precious burl, which they are cutting from trees that can live to be 2,000 years old, is used for decorative clocks and coffee tables.

These items are worth a ton of dough. High-quality lacy-grained wood will go for two to three bucks a pound. Dining room tables are being offered for $1,300 on eBay, the AP reports

"Originally there were two million acres of old-growth forest that spanned the coast of Northern California from Oregon to Monterey," park district interpretation supervisor Jeff Denny said. "Over the past 150 years, 95 percent of that original forest has been cut. The only remaining old-growth forest in existence now is almost entirely within the Redwood National Park" and some state parks.

Park rangers have about 133,000 acres of park to defend, making it pretty difficult to catch poachers in the act. The thieves work at night, away from the road. Rangers hope the road closure will at least raise the awareness of park visitors so they question the source of slabs offered at burl shops. 

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